Employment freaks me out.
It's hard to imagine putting all of your intellectual, emotional, and physical energy into a company – with nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Or, the end of your life.
Maybe a savings, if you were disciplined enough, or a 401K, but aside from that, you're left with a former title and a few keepsake peppermint candies.
That's because when you're living off a salary that someone else grants you, you don't own your lifestyle–you rent it.
It's in this same vein that freelance work freaks me out.
While you seem to be working for yourself, what you're really doing is working for any clients you can get. In other words: Everyone else, except for yourself.
The big problem with this revenue model is that when you dry up, your business doesn't just dry up–it dies. So you're still left with nothing…except maybe a balloon from the mental ward. Do they still use the term? Mental ward? (I sort of like it.)–
And then you've got a third option: Start your own business.
Except here, a “business” doesn't just refer to a transient and highly dependent (read: needy) means of generating revenue (freelancing); it refers to a business that, if left to its own devices, can still run itself.
Without you there, slaving over the cauldron every moment of every day. (Another money word–cauldron. When's the last time you used that in a sentence?)
This isn't a novel concept. It's something that's often discussed in the business world. What isn't often discussed, however, is why it's so damn important. (Because if it were, more people would feel a sense of obligation to themselves to make it happen.) A few of my whys:
You don't want to end up in the mental ward.
You'd like a semblance of a life.
You don't want to live by everyone else's deadlines.
If go visit Aunt June, she'll be pissed if you're on your laptop the whole time.
It'd be nice to have some equity in the world.
Your self-actualization will go through the roof.
Your income isn't directly related to the number of “billable hours” you work–they're all fucking billable.
Business growth isn't directly related to your exhaustion.
You now own an asset…instead of being an asset. (As long as you do it right.)
You'll have leverage. And leverage makes the world go 'round.
Here in Costa Rica
…I've been (humbly) approached numerous times by separate business owners who want me to do work for them. To help them market themselves. To write for them. In sum, to help them build their businesses and make money.
The question, of course, becomes: How will doing that help me build my business and make money?
The answer: It doesn't.
In fact, doing work for them would cause me to lose money, because it would pull me away from building my own companies. My own assets. My own wealth.
This mentality is crucial.
You've got to be meticulous when it comes to your business decisions. Which are the ones that will thrust you forward? And which are the ones that will hold you back?
But what if I really wanted to help those business owners? And what if I wanted to do it in a way that didn't hold me back? Is it possible?
But it involves a different approach.
Instead of scrambling to expend my limited resources (time, energy, money, etc.) in helping each business owner build his/her own assets, I would be much better served by building my own asset (think: a website dedicated to Costa Rica that drives traffic) – and then allow them to benefit from it as, say, advertisers, for example. And guess what? They'd be better served, too.
That's the difference between spotting an opportunity versus merely taking an opportunity.
And it's also the difference between being in business, and merely doing business.
Because when you do business, you make money.
But when you're in business?
You make a lot more than money.
You make a life.
One where having your cake, singing in the rain, and stopping to smell the roses aren't just metaphors.
…They're how you live.